‘The Unholy’ Production Designer Felicity Abbott on Creating Horror Film’s Creepy Kern Babies

When Sony Pictures’ “The Unholy” hits theatres on Good Friday, April 2, its ghastly babies may very well enter the realm of creepiest movie dolls.

As part of a Scottish tradition, the totems were crafted by production designer Felicity Abbott for burial at the end of fields by Celtic farmers for good fortune.

‘The Unholy’ Production Designer Felicity Abbott on Creating Horror Film’s Creepy Kern Babies

The plan, as explained by the film’s director Evan Spiliotopoulos, was for “the dolls to absorb all the negative energy in the field, and everything would be cleansed.”

The film is based on James Herbert’s horror novel “Shrine,” published in 1983, about a tree with mystical healing powers.

The film added a mysterious twist to the traditional Scottish ritual by concentrating on a mute girl who suddenly begins to hear when she visits the tree.

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Director Felicity Abbott

Felicity Abbott, who was nominated for an AACTA for her work on the Blumhouse science fiction action thriller UPGRADE.

It was recently honoured with the New Zealand Television Award for Best Production Design for her contribution to the Working Title UK production of THE LUMINARIES.

The 6-part miniseries is based on Eleanor Catton’s Man Booker prize-winning novel, The Goldrush, which is an epic tale of love, murder, and retribution set in New Zealand during the 1860s.

Her Previous Work

Prior projects of hers include the 2014 period film THE OUTLAW MICHAEL HOWE, for which she won the Australian Production Design Guild (APDG) Award for Best Production Design.

And last year’s LADIES IN BLACK, a story set in the summer of 1959 from director Bruce Beresford (Driving Miss Daisy, Mao’s Last Dancer, Black Robe).

Having worked as a production designer on highly acclaimed films like REDFERN NOW (produced by Australian business Blackfella Films).

And MY PLACE (a 26-part epic for Matchbox – NBC Universal), Felicity has considerable experience working across a variety of genres and time periods.

‘The Unholy’ Film Review

Satanic counter-programming for the religious horror devoted is available in the form of The Unholy just in time for Easter.

Nearly a decade after being drawn into a dybbuk haunting in The Possession, Jeffrey Dean Morgan reunites with Sam Raimi’s Ghost House Pictures.

In a story that tills the soil of Massachusetts for its history of charred witches and, this time around, draws on Catholic demonology instead of Jewish folklore.

The film has an intriguing beginning, but it becomes increasingly overblown and corny as it spends too much time on establishing atmosphere and people and too little on getting to the first fatality.

It also relies heavily on recycled plot devices that have been used successfully in everything from the Ringu series to the Conjuring films.


This is an average effort that relies more on production values than innovation, much like the rest of Ghost House’s output in the years since Raimi himself directed the wickedly amusing Drag Me to Hell in 2009.

(The 2016 house-invasion thriller Don’t Breathe was the main exception.) Even though most of his writing credits have been for longer Disney movies.

Evan Spiliotopoulos makes a watchable but unremarkable transition into the director’s chair with The Unholy. The introduction of even this single change is already noteworthy.